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Minnesota woman who crashed into a garage says her vehicle accelerated even though she was stepping on the brakes

The driver of the vehicle that went through several yards and fences before coming to a stop at a garage Wednesday said her vehicle accelerated even though she was pressing on the brakes.

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WILLMAR, Minn. — Kathy Peterson, 65, of New London, described a harrowing experience when her vehicle accelerated Wednesday, Feb. 3, despite her hitting the brakes as she came out of Walt's Car Wash in Willmar.

"I was trying to put on the brake multiple times," Peterson said. "I was also looking for a place to crash into so I wouldn't kill myself or others. It was the most terrifying thing."

Peterson's vehicle model, a 2018 Subaru Forester, is currently named in at least two lawsuits that claim 2012-2018 Subaru Foresters, 2015-2019 Outbacks and Legacy sedans can suddenly accelerate.

The woman told law enforcement at the scene that she was stepping on the brakes as it drove through several yards and fences before coming to a stop at an unoccupied garage after exiting the car wash.

Willmar Police Capt. Michael Anderson had said previously that the scene and witness statements indicated she was stepping on the gas, but said later that the vehicle suddenly accelerating is also possible.

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One of the claims of the lawsuit states that the brake override system either malfunctions or is not able to stop sudden acceleration.

"When my car flew across the street like that, I headed for those empty back yards because that's all I could see at the time," Peterson said.

Peterson said as she went through the first fence, she knew the brake wasn't working and tried it again as she approached the second fence to no avail.

She said she tried tapping the accelerator because in a previous vehicle her accelerator would catch and tapping it would help but it did not Wednesday.

Alcohol and drugs are not considered a factor in the accident. Peterson was transported to the local hospital as a precaution. No other injuries were reported. Anderson wrote that no charges were filed in the incident.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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